Eames v. Godfrey,
68 U.S. 78 (1863)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Eames v. Godfrey, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 78 78 (1863)

Eames v. Godfrey

68 U.S. (1 Wall.) 78


Where a patent is for a combination of distinct and designated parts, it is not infringed by a combination which varies from that patented, in the omission of one of the operative parts and the substitution therefor of another part substantially different it its construction and operation, but serving the same purpose.

Godfrey sued Eames in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Massachusetts, in an action on the case for infringing a patent for a new and useful improvement in boot trees, of which patent he, Godfrey, was the assignee. The defendant pleaded not guilty, and gave notice of special matters of defense. The case was tried by a jury, who found the defendant guilty, and assessed the damages at $2,177.50.

The patent was for a combination of mechanical powers for a new and useful improvement in boot trees, and included a certain mechanism for distending the leg of the boot tree. The plaintiff did not claim that the defendant had used the same mechanism that he did for distending the leg of the boot tree, but that the defendant had used all the other parts of his combination, and that the mechanism which the defendant used, although differing in construction and operation from that described in the patent, yet performed the same function. The defendant contended, that not having used the mechanism described in the patent for distending the leg of the boot tree, although he had used the other parts of the combination, he was not guilty of infringing the patent, and requested the court so to rule. The court refused to rule as requested, but instructed the jury,

"That to make out an infringement of the claim for combination, it was not necessary for the plaintiff to show that the mechanism for distending used by the defendant and its mode of operation were the same with that described in the plaintiff's patent for the purpose of distending the boot tree, and that if said mechanism for distending the leg &c., used by the defendant, was not the same mechanism, operating in the same manner as that described in the plaintiff's patent for

Page 68 U. S. 79

the same purpose; still if there were in the defendant's machine a mechanism performing the same function as that performed by plaintiff's distending mechanism, and if this was combined with the other parts in the manner in which the distending mechanism described in the plaintiff's patent was combined, it was an infringement of said patent, and the defendant would be liable therefor."

The defendant excepted to the instructions given, and the refusal of the court to instruct as prayed for.

On error here, the instructions and refusal, as aforesaid, were the points before this Court.

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